The "Mini Clip Chart"

Last summer, it was all the rage on teacher blogs to use a clip chart for behavior management. There were so many options and colors and themes, and I was on board. I even made my own that I wanted to use! (Click here if you would like to see it.) I appreciated the concept of moving the clothespins up and down the chart depending on behavior, and I liked that students can improve and clip back up.

The only concern that I had was that the whole class was able to see it from everywhere in the room. Also, if parent volunteers came in, they would be able to see certain students always toward the bottom of the chart. I wanted a more positive learning environment where students were not ashamed of their behavior, but took ownership of their mistakes.

I started off the school year with whole group management. I had a small, plastic container and some river rocks. Whenever I caught someone being good, I added a rock to our collection. If the class was not following the rules, a rock came out. It worked very well at the beginning of the year! We filled that jar up and got to have extra recess. :) Fun!

Towards October, I realized we needed a little more...motivation. I really wanted to have a clip chart because I could see some students who needed the individual behavior plan, but I couldn't think of a way to do it so that it was not a page or chart on the wall. After much brainstorming came the idea of a miniature clip chart.

As you can see, it's a much smaller version of the clip chart! I used the four colors red, orange, green, and blue. Here's what they mean:

  1. Red means teacher's choice. It means parent contact of some sort, whether it's a phone call, office visit, or just an email. The child  may not move the clip back up if it gets to red.
  2. Orange is a warning. The students can move up from orange. There will be lots of movement between green and orange (hopefully!). If a child asks to move back up, they are not allowed to move back up yet. I have to actually see the students making good choices, not just begging for green.
  3. Green means ready to learn. The students start their day off at green. I have them change their clip back to green at the end of the day so that we can start fresh the next day.
  4. Blue means the child is making super choices! If you see that child who is staying on task, working hard, and helping others, move him or her up to blue! You can even find a way to reward that behavior. (Such as a positive note home, a positive phone call, etc.)

All you need is a large craft stick, some markers, and a clothespin.

First, I labeled the clothespins with my students' names. I also put their name on the craft stick so that they can be sure to keep track of both pieces. Next comes the messy part. Word of caution: Your hands will get marker on them. We're teachers, so we're used to messy hands, right!? Get the four colors you want to use and hold the very end of the craft stick. Start coloring the stick with the magic marker in small rectangles with each color.

Yes, the color will stay on.
Yes, it will dry.
And yes, the color will come off the stick if it comes in contact with water. Believe me.

That's it!

I did not need to use treasure box or follow-up incentives for this tool (mainly because I didn't have ideas on how to manage that). I loved that it sat at each child's table instead of in plain view on the wall. I believe it really made our classroom more positive because they really had the chance to move back up when they made good choices. I didn't ever hear, "Robert is ALWAYS on red!!" :) I count that as a success.

If you have any ideas on how to extend this tool to make it more interesting, please let me know in the comments!

Do you use a clip chart? What is your go-to method of behavior management?


  1. That's a really cute idea! I used a clip chart and it was on the wall. I could not write students names on it- had to use numbers (which didn't work so I went to initials). I like the individual clips a lot, but wonder if you had problems with kids playing with them.

    1. Thanks, KinderKarla! :) If I had mine on the wall, I probably would have tried numbers also. Initials is a good idea, too! I did have some issues with kids playing with clips, but I stopped it by having them clip down if they were playing with them. I only had to do that for about a week before they got the message. ;)

  2. I love the concept of taking it off the "public wall", but how do you keep sticky fingers off of them ? Brainstorm Time? Love your blog!

    1. I addressed that issue quickly by saying, "If you play with the clip, you clip down." (i.e., I wasn't very nice haha!) I would give them the look and they would remember the rule of clips. After about a week or reminders, the kids typically left them alone. Nobody wanted orange! :) The main thing about that rule is being consistent. Now, if they were working hard after the clip down, they could obviously move back up. Thanks for commenting, Mary!!

  3. Love your idea! Do they stay attached to the desk, or just sit on it? I use a color chart on the wall with clothespins right now, but I might try this next year! Since I have 7 colors on mine, I might try a wooden paint stirrer and attach it to the desk with Velcro, with a Velcro clip the kiddos can move around. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I have mine just sitting on the students' tables. :) A wooden paint stirrer could work! My tables aren't big enough for that, I think. I also liked the simplicity of just 4 colors because I doubt I could keep up with 7! Velcro is smart! Does velcro come off tables easily? Always wondered that!

  4. This is such a fantastic idea. If I used a clip chart, this is totally how I would do it now. Did you collect these at night and record what color the students were on? At my school, we are using a school wide behavior program as our Tier 1 behavior program so at this moment I can not deviate from that. We have to record what color sticks were pulled each day. Thanks for the wonderful idea. I am so glad I came across your blog. I am your newest follower. :)

    Mrs. Pauley’s Kindergarten

  5. Thanks for the follow, Amanda! :) Yes, I did record the color they were on. In their take-home folders, I have a calendar page for the month are in. On the correct date, I would use the matching color marker to record the data. At the end of the month, I took the calendars out of the folder and stored them in a data folder for referencing. Hope that makes sense! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed my post!

  6. This would even work for older students... I'm thinking of a couple of students entering my sixth grade this year. Hmmm? Might give this a try. I also like the idea of keeping a daily chart. Thanks for a great idea(s)!

  7. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing it! Ever since I read this blog post (http://teachinginprogress.blogspot.com/2012/10/why-i-will-never-use-behavior-chart.html) I've been trying to find something else to use. We've always used a clip chart at our school and the parents come to expect it and know to look for it. I've always wanted to find something else, but I still needed that parent communication part of letting them know how their child's day was. I really like this idea and I definitely want to try it out in my room next year! Thanks!

    Katie :)

  8. What did you do about lost clip charts?

  9. Love this idea! I am a Spec. Ed teacher and I could use this for a few students. I love that it could be portable too. Thanks for sharing. Becky

  10. Hi Sarah, thank you so much for sharing this great idea! I just wanted to let you know that I have included this post in my weekly round-up of great Pinterest pins. If you're interested in having a look, you can visit my blog post here: http://littlegreenteacher.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/pins-of-the-week-Sep-9th-13.html

    Thanks, Kelly at Little Green

  11. How about velcro-ing the clips to the inside of the students' pencil boxes? That way they are out of sight from everyone and will also help with the temptation to play with them. This is a wonderful idea! Thank you so much!


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